MANAGING ATTENDANCE: What Every Supervisor Should Know

Contrary to popular belief, Federal employees having Career Tenure are not made of Teflon®; they are subject to the same disciplinary measures as their private sector counterparts.

Career Tenure was originally adopted solely for the purpose of restricting the power of the President of the United States to remove certain office-holders without the approval of the Senate. Today, “career tenure” means that Federal employees are protected from arbitrary, “at will” decisions to terminate their employment without cause. Nevertheless, unacceptable performance and inappropriate or unacceptable conduct are for cause reasons to take corrective measures with Federal employees.

Contrary to what many believe, the problem with poor attendance isn’t “Career Tenure” in the Federal government; it lies in management’s collective willingness to do what must be done to correct the behavior! The titles “Manager” and “Supervisor” are not just about prestige or more pay; these titles come with additional and serious responsibilities, many of which are not easy to enforce or quick to deliver results.

Managers and Supervisors are paid to administer the rules, regulations and policies enacted by Congress; there are many excellent managers & supervisors in the Federal government who understand their role and responsibilities. Unfortunately, the “one bad apple” rule comes into play with the few people who are promoted to such positions for the wrong reasons. These are the people who enable the continued existence of that stereotypical Federal employee who is lazy, inept, and/or feeble.

In every realm of employment, poor employee attendance should be handled as a conduct issue. If it were you, wouldn’t you want your supervisor to tell you when you stepped over the line and, to do so before you were issued correction, disciplinary action? That’s the easiest way to handle conduct issues! Put yourself in the employees’ shoes, decide what makes sense, what’s fair, and Just Do It.

Getting a Handle on Attendance Problems is methodic. Ten steps will make the difference for Managers and Supervisors between improving employees’ attendance behaviors and failing to make a difference. Take a look at Bob Gibson’s article in FedSmith® entitled 10 Steps Every Federal Supervisor Can Take. The guidance he provides is simple, straight forward, and it makes sense. And remember, there are still situations that warrant swift and serious measures but these are few and far between in most employment settings so work closely with your Employee Relations Specialists Before Deciding What Action to Take for Employee Misconduct.

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Susan Thomas

I saw a post on a website that essentially said that the millenials did better work than their older counterparts and they should not be chastised if they showed up late for work or left early. The point of the poster, I believe, was to say millenials work was inherently superior to that of older workers and the employer should be glad to have them. I will not debate here the quality of work issue because there is inadequate space in this dialogue box, but I will simply address the issue of time and attendance.

Work hours are in place for a reason. If you are chronically late you are not a dependable employee. The same applies to the employee who sneaks out of the office when the boss’s back is turned or is not in. It’s up to the supervisor to take action. It is not a pleasant thing to do, but a good manager will do it.